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India Grand Prix to go ahead despite court hearing

By Amlan Chakraborty

GREATER NOIDA, India (Reuters) - Indian Grand Prix organizers have confirmed that Sunday's race will go ahead even though the country's top court has agreed to hear a petition on Friday seeking its cancellation over tax issues.

The Supreme Court decided to hear the case after campaigner Amit Kumar accused race promoters Jaypee Sports International (JPSI) of not paying entertainment taxes in full for the 2012 race.

"The race will go on. There's absolutely no doubt about that," Indian motorsports chief Vicky Chandhok told Reuters on Thursday.

"This has happened many times before. You've had people trying to stop cricket matches...our justice system is pretty strong that no sporting event should be stopped.

"It's a civil matter, let it be heard in court as long as it takes and that's it. No worries," added Chandhok who heads the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI).

Kumar had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2011 arguing Formula One was not sport but entertainment and should not be exempted from entertainment taxes.

JPSI spokesman Askari Zaidi said they would adhere to the court order.

"A PIL was filed earlier also and whatever the court had asked to do, we did," Zaidi said ahead of the race in which Red Bull's German driver Sebastian Vettel could seal his fourth successive title.

"The court had asked us to deposit a certain amount (of money), that was deposited. Now if somebody goes to court again, we'd do whatever the court tells us," Zaidi added.

The Indian Grand Prix has been dropped from next year's calendar but the promoters are optimistic of a return in 2015.

(Additional reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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